The Long View
The Long View
Jun 12, 2019
Aron Szapiro: 'You Can't Fix What You Can't Measure'
51 min

Is there a retirement crisis in the United States, and what role does the government have in improving the system? What's the current status of a fiduciary standard for financial advice? 

Aron Szapiro, Morningstar's director of policy research and our guest for The Long View podcast, obsesses over these topics. In his role, he and his team conduct research on various matters of public policy and formulate views on policy proposals under consideration by Congress and regulatory bodies. Szapiro has testified before Congress, and he has an inside view of how Washington works: Before venturing into the private sector, he was a senior analyst in the U.S. Government Accountability Office, and he also worked for the New Jersey state legislature. 

In this wide-ranging interview, Szapiro defines Morningstar's approach to policy research and homes in on some of the policy matters dominating our discourse today: whether financial advisors should be held to a fiduciary standard, how the U.S. retirement system might be improved, and whether meaningful retirement legislation can make it through partisan gridlock in Washington. 

This conversation was recorded on April 30, 2019. Since then, the House passed the SECURE Act (on May 23); that legislation has provisions related to annuities in 401(k) plans, multiple employer plans, and required minimum distributions. As of June 11, 2019, the provisions have not passed the Senate. And the Securities and Exchange Commission approved a final version of Regulation Best Interest, which aims to hold broker/dealers to a higher standard of care than was previously required.

Show Notes and References

Background and Professional Development
Szapiro's trajectory into policy research: "It was this arcane language that I wanted to understand." (1:15-2:39)

10 Millennials Making Their Mark on Washington and Beyond 

Policy Research
What policy means at Morningstar and for investors: "Policy really drives and dictates a lot of what ends up happening to investors." (2:40-4:55)

How his team avoids conflicts with Morningstar's business interests: "What would be best for investors and what evidence do we have to support that position?" (4:56-6:25)

How his team works to ground policy recommendations in the data: "What we don't do is we don't try to make values-based arguments." (6:26-8:25)

On whether investors are shaping the investment landscape more than policymakers are: "It's in government's long-term interest to make sure we have a system that protects and empowers people to save and make some decisions." (8:26-10:35)

Policy Matters Today
The state of fiduciary regulation for financial advisors: "It's sort of a mess." (10:36-14:53)

States' role in creating policies that affect investors: "I hope these things build toward a federal solution." (14:54-16:58)

What will drive substantive change in Washington with respect to the investment and retirement landscape: "It's a very slow-moving ship." (16:59-19:51)

The State of the U.S. Retirement System
Retirement preparedness in the U.S.: "There are a lot of people who have been left behind by the fragmented system that we have." (19:52-22:48)

How to measure retirement adequacy: "People should be able to sustain their standard of living that they had during their working lives in retirement." (22:49-24:13)

Whether today's retirees are running out of money, and how we would know. "You don't want to do policy by anecdote." (24:14-26:38)

On the bifurcation in retirement-plan quality between big and small employers. "Small employers are busy keeping the lights on." (26:39-29:22)

On whether the Thrift Savings Plan for federal workers should be available to more workers. "It's great as a model that others can aspire to." (29:23-31:50)

About the Podcast: The Long View is a podcast from Morningstar. Each week, hosts Christine Benz and Jeff Ptak conduct an in-depth discussion with a thought leader from the world of investing or personal finance. The podcast is produced by George Castady and Scott Halver.

About the Hosts: Christine Benz and Jeff Ptak have been analysts and commentators on investments and the investment industry for many years. Christine is Morningstar's director of personal finance and senior columnist for Morningstar.com. Jeff is head of global manager research for Morningstar Research Services, overseeing Morningstar's team of 120 manager research analysts in the U.S. and overseas.

To Share Feedback or a Guest Idea: Write us at TheLongView@morningstar.com

Bogleheads On Investing Podcast
Bogleheads On Investing Podcast
bogleheads
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Roger Lowenstein reported for The Wall Street Journal for more than a decade and is also an award-winning book author. His work has appeared in Bloomberg, The New York Review of Books, Fortune, The New York Times Magazine, and other publications. His best-selling books include Buffett, When Genius Failed, Origins of the Crash, While America Aged, and The End of Wall Street. In this episode, we discuss Roger's books and lessons he learned writing them. This podcast is hosted by Rick Ferri, CFA, a long-time Boglehead and investment adviser. The Bogleheads are a group of like-minded individual investors who follow the general investment and business beliefs of John C. Bogle, founder and former CEO of the Vanguard Group. It is a conflict-free community where individual investors reach out and provide education, assistance, and relevant information to other investors of all experience levels at no cost. The organization's free website is Bogleheads.org, and the wiki site is Bogleheads® wiki. Since 2000, the Bogleheads' have held national conferences in major cities around the country. There are also many Local Chapters in the US and even a few Foreign Chapters that meet regularly. New Chapters are being added on a regular basis. All Bogleheads activities are coordinated by volunteers who contribute their time and talent. This podcast is supported by the John C. Bogle Center for Financial Literacy, a non-profit organization approved by the IRS as a 501(c)(3) public charity on February 6, 2012. Your tax-deductible donation to the Bogle Center is appreciated.
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WEALTHTRACK
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Alpha Trader
Alpha Trader
Seeking Alpha
Investment choices of the pros - author Brian Portnoy joins Alpha Trader
This week's Alpha Trader podcast features hosts Aaron Task and Stephen Alpher talking with Brian Portnoy, the founder of Shaping Wealth, and co-editor with Josh Brown of the new book, How I Invest My Money. Prior to speaking with Portnoy, the hosts discuss an historic month for equity markets - the S&P posting its best November ever, the Dow posting its best month since 1987, and the Russell 2000 outperforming them both. They remind that while the headlines about growing Covid-19 cases, hospitalizations, and related shutdowns look grim, markets look ahead and - thanks to what appears to be outstanding news on vaccines - are pricing in a better world six-twelve months down the road. And don't forget the election. Markets really appear to be liking the prospects for divided government and - contrary to some pre-election worries - Biden's early cabinet picks show someone who is set on governing roughly from the center. How I Invest My Money explores the investment choices of 25 prominent finance players. The common theme across this spectrum of experts: There is none, says Portnoy, other than the maxim that personal finance is more personal than finance. Even in this age of quantification and robo-advisors, says Portnoy, everyone has different goals they're optimizing, meaning investment choices will remain personal. Adding it up, nearly no one's portfolio is necessarily going to fit into the perfect efficient frontier, and there's nothing wrong with that. So many folks beat themselves up over not being fully invested in the kind of bull market we've seen over the past several months, but Portnoy reminds that we tend to undervalue the optionality and freedom of holding cash. That's not just Portnoy's belief but - in a book of 25 different professionals talking about how they invest their money - the beauty of cash is a common theme. Listen to or subscribe to Alpha Trader on these podcast platforms: Apple Podcasts Spotify Google Play Stitcher Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
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Be Wealthy & Smart
Be Wealthy & Smart
Linda P. Jones
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Learn why digital currencies may be about to be legislated and accepted and used by the mainstream. Central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) are going to be used as digital currencies and institutional investors are getting invested in this asset class. Are you investing well for financial freedom...or not? As we live our lives, we have seen enormous money be made in real estate, technology stocks, etc. and have seen wild swings in markets before. They can feel scary at the time, but in hindsight are often tremendous opportunities for future financial success. If you only knew where to invest for the long-term, what a difference it would make, because the difference between investing $100k and earning 2% or 10% on your money over 30 years, is the difference between it growing to $181,136 or $1,744,940, an increase of over $1.5 million dollars. Your compounding rate, and how well you invest, matters! INTERESTED IN THE BE WEALTHY & SMART VIP EXPERIENCE? -Asset allocation model with ticker symbols and % to invest -Monthly investing webinars with Linda -Private Facebook group with daily insights -Weekly stock market commentary email -Lifetime access -US and foreign investors, no minimum $ amount required Extending the Black Friday week offer, enjoy a 50% savings on the VIP Experience. More information is here or have a complimentary consultation with Linda to answer your questions. For an appointment to talk, click here: https://2909395.survey.fm/application-for-vip-experience PLEASE REVIEW THE SHOW ON ITUNES If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe and leave a review. I love hearing from you! I so appreciate it! SUBSCRIBE TO BE WEALTHY & SMART Click Here to Subscribe Via iTunes Click Here to Subscribe Via Stitcher on an Android Device Click Here to Subscribe Via RSS Feed WEALTH HEIRESS TV Please subscribe to Wealth Heiress TV YouTube channel (it’s not just for women, it’s for men too!), here. PLEASE LEAVE A BOOK REVIEW Leave a book review on Amazon here. Get my book, “You’re Already a Wealth Heiress, Now Think and Act Like One: 6 Practical Steps to Make It a Reality Now!” Men love it too! After all, you are Wealth Heirs. :) Available for purchase on Amazon. International buyers (if you live outside of the US) get my book here. WANT MORE FROM LINDA? Check out her programs. Join her on Instagram. WEALTH LIBRARY OF PODCASTS Listen to the full wealth library of podcasts from the beginning. Use the search bar in the upper right corner of the page to search topics. TODAY'S SPONSOR I want to take a few seconds to tell you about how I “read” more books and stay ahead of the curve. It’s by not reading books, but instead listening to them – like you are right now! With Audible, there are over 150,000 titles to choose from for your iPhone, Android, Kindle or mp3 player and…your first audiobook is FREE! I suggest you get the audio book of Think and Grow Rich, or you can check out my website Resources page where I list all of my favorite financial books and you see exactly what books I have read and recommend you read. Then get started with Audible by visiting https://lindapjones.com/FreeBook and order your first audio book free! Get Think and Grow Rich or another book from my recommend list, and be sure to get started checking off the books you want to read with your free book from Audible! Be Wealthy & Smart,™ is a personal finance show with self-made millionaire Linda P. Jones, America’s Wealth Mentor.™ Learn simple steps that make a big difference to your financial freedom. (Some links are affiliate links. There is no additional cost to you.)
24 min
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